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The Fedora installation system has a "Minimal" option, which will give you a command-line system with networking and little else. You can then use yum to install any extra software that you actually want on the system:
Bear in mind, though, that Internet connections are a order of magnitude slower than the internal connections of the machine, so provided that you stay within the limits of the hardware you can only significantly improve the network performance by adjusting the connection (Quality of Service, more bandwidth etc.).
As Linux~Powered says, unused applications just use up storage space. You can remove whole groups/classes of applications with Add/Remove Applications and yum if you want to, though.
"Services," as they are called in Windows (they are "daemons" on Linux) come into play in one of two ways:
During startup, they are mentioned by one of the Snn.. symbolic-links in (say) /etc/rc5.d. (Your directory may vary.) These programs are started at boot-time during the initialization process.
The service can be started by (say) xinetd whenever a packet arrives on a certain port. These are defined in (say) /etc/xinetd.d. (The idea here is that you don't have to have a bunch of extra daemons hanging around "just in case" they are actually requested. They're only started, by xinetd, if they just-now actually have been requested...)
As far as performance is concerned, well, "an idle process really doesn't take up much resources." But for security, you definitely want to know which daemons you have defined, and why and when they run. Any daemon that you do not know about, and do not need, is an unnecessary avenue by which a clever intruder might be able to break in to your system.